Abandoned, on a cool October afternoon, to the nurses of the Saint Louis World's Fair nursery, Baby No. 13 could have fallen victim to many fates. He could have been left to the already crowded orphanages, to later be institutionalized. He could have been subject to child labor, as this was a time when one third of all southern mill workers were children and child labor laws would not be commonplace for years to come. He could have been lost and forgotten in the system that so often fell short for helpless children.
The beach wasn’t at all how I’d recalled it as a child. I’d often fantasised about scrunching my toes in the soft, glorious sand, shrieking at the countless blue waves, often intimidating in their size, fiercely crashing into the bay. Now upon my return I saw the beach for what it really was. The sand blurred out in a dismal trance, the shore fading into a grey liquid sludge, bleak and miserable in the dull winter light. The sea, now brown in colour, was motionless, dead. Its rancid salty breath blew tepidly through my hair accompanied by the keen bite on my cheeks of cold winter winds. A small colony of gulls chased after the rest of someone’s discarded lunch blustering across the decaying peer. The repetitive buzz of fair ground music and slot machines only soiled the atmosphere further.
As a child, I grew up in a semi-rural/suburban community. In one direction you could easily drive towards the city and the opposite direction would take you into farm country—a fifteen-minute drive, either way. I used to cycle both directions, and I developed a fondness for both alike, sketching pictures of old barns and forest landscapes. On other occasions, I'd visit the city to shop and take pictures, only to sketch them later on. These hobbies were the result of my grandparents, who visited every summer from Europe. They would arrive soon after school was out and return just before September. In many ways, they had a stronger impact on my activities throughout childhood, more so than my parents or friends.
Alma Katherine Hagan was born February 24, 1925 near Strode, Kentucky, the daughter of Erie and Nora Page Hagan. Along with her parents, brothers, sisters and Grandpa Brock Page, the rickety little house a short distance from old Rockbridge School swelled with life on the brink of the Great Depression. They worked hard raising gardens and a family on a tobacco income, moving several times before making a home on the George Carter farm in the curve on highway 1049. Grandma was the seventh of ten children—Neva, Clifton, Glaydell, Odell, Dale, Ruby, Katherine, Sarah, Chloe Eagle and James Wendall—with several not living until adulthood. With the exception of Chloe Eagle, Katherine survived them all. One of her earliest memories was hearing James Wendall crying. He did not live more than a few months.
I was in the middle of my sophomore year of high school when this all went down. I was at home, sick with the flu, when my mom raced down the stairs shouting about how my grandma had a stroke.
This is not an obituary. It's not a cold, technically correct description of how and when someone died and who it is that's still around to deal with the aftermath with a notification about when the funeral is. In about two days a lot of us will get out of bed, go on about all the things that we need to get done, and then at around three o'clock we'll get dressed. We'll pile into cars and head to the funeral home. There there will be a service, maybe some people will speak about who he was, how he died, but you know what we won't talk enough about? How he lived. I found this picture in an old tin Star Wars lunch box that I keep the things that are most important to me in; pictures of my family, a little heart-shaped craft that means the world to me, a flower from an old friend, etc. It made me sad that this was the only picture I had or could find and I'm writing this because he deserved more than an old picture in a box or a tiny pamphlet with his birthday and the day he died on it.
Everybody has that one person that they idolize, someone that they aspire to be. For some, it is a celebrity; for others, it is an athlete; and for some, it is their own family. The person that I idolize is my grandfather. I idolize him because he lived an interesting life. My grandfather got to grow up in the 1920s, and I find that interesting because I like to ask him what things were like back then, and what his views are on today’s society. I find it interesting because he is a veteran of the Korean War, in fact he was even shot in the foot (that’s not important, I just wanted to add that).
People. I love people. Being around them and interacting. People are unique and vibrant. They come in all different shapes, colors, and sizes. People warm my heart. People make me smile. People keep me going.
“It’s you and me against the world.”
My late grandfather was an editor's choice award winner three times. He wrote songs, short stories, and children's books. I even heard of a screenplay for a TV show that he never showed anyone. He was a child at heart and always knew how to reach children with his words. Imagine the lessons we got as kids, not to mention the bedtime stories and games we played together. He was always so animated and got into it with his outfits. We had a lot of fun growing up because of him.
Welcome, everyone, to my first post, and an introduction to the overall topic of this blog.